It almost goes without saying, that to experience culture, you need to experience it’s food. Exotic cuisine provides an opportunity to experience exotic flavors and local dishes. If you’re a vegetarian, there is no need to miss out on this cultural experience. Pick one of these vegetarian friendly countries, and don’t let your diet dictate your destination.
Having one of the lowest rates of meat consumption in the world, it is no surprise that India is super vegetarian friendly. Whatever you do, don’t mistake western Indian food for traditional cuisine. Traditional Indian food has no artificial ingredients, and is predominately meatless. You definitely won’t find a chicken korma or beef madrasa on the menu here.
Some of my favorite dishes include, vegetable biryani (vegetable fried rice), palak paneer (spinach and goats cheese curry) and chana masala (chickpea curry). Malai kofta curry is also a yummy vegan option. This curry consists of fried, mashed potato and vegetable dumpling balls in a nutty, gravy sauce. Finally, we have the onion bhaji (deep fried onions with spices) – it’s safe to say, you haven’t had a proper onion bhaji until you’ve had one in India.
When most people think of Sri Lankan food, they mistakenly think of Indian food. However the reality is that Sri Lankan food is quite different. Importantly, you will still find an array of tasty vegetarian curries but the flavors happen to be more tropical. In addition, many dishes tend to be made with coconut, local fruits and vegetables.
My favorite veggie dish from Sri Lanka is polos(young jackfruit curry). The Jackfruit is cut into chucks and simmered in a blend of different spices. Once cooked the fruit takes on an almost meaty texture. In fact, it is is often mistaken for a beef dish. It is usually served with rice and roti (flat bread).
Pol sambol (coconut dip or relish) is another winner. Pol sambol is a mixture of spices, dried chilies, shredded coconut, onions, salt and lime juice. You will find different types of sambol all over Sri Lanka, however the coconut sambol has to be the best of the best. Traditionally, it’s served separately, and can be added to curries or eaten with bread or roti.
Finally, we have egg hoppers. Picture a Sri Lankan pancake, only made with coconut milk and cooked in a wok. They can be served plain or with a fried egg, and are usually accompanied by different relishes and sometimes, pol sambol.
One might be surprised to hear that Britain made the list. However you will rarely find a restaurant in Britain that doesn’t have at least one vegetarian option on the menu. Restaurants and supermarkets are required to mark anything that is vegetarian with a green “V”. This makes identifying vegetarian options super easy.
While there aren’t many specific or traditional British vegetarian foods, most dishes will have a vegetarian alternative. Typically, the meat will be substituted for tofu, soy mince or a plant based equivalent. Popular vegetarian options include,shepherds pie (soy and vegetables with a mash potato top), vegetarian bangers and mash, lasagna, vegetarian burgers and korma curries.
Of course, there is nothing more quintessentially British than a traditional English Breakfast. Luckily, most restaurants and pubs also offer a vegetarian Option.
It’s estimated that about 13% of Israelis follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. High demand for vegetarian foods have resulted in the country leading the way in non-meat cuisine. Some delicious foods commonly found in Israel include, hummus, sambusak (similar to the Indian samosa), Sabich (a pita sandwich with eggplant, hummus, tahini, fresh herbs and mixed salad or vegetables) and falafel. For desert there is the basbousa(a sweet semolina cake).
The great thing about Thai food is that as well as having interesting veggie dishes, most traditional meat dishes can easily be made vegetarian without losing the Thai flavor. Green curries, Massaman curries, Pad Thai, even spring rolls are made vegetarian by substituting meat for tofu. If you are looking for a meatless dish that is fresh and light, you can try a papaya salad. Beware, those green Thai chilies may have your eyes watering. If you’re not a fan of that kind of pleasurable pain, then Pad Thai might be a better option for you. There is no wrong answer when it comes to veggie Thai options.
If you’re looking looking to bring the world home, try reading “Green Kitchen Travels: Healthy Vegetarian Food Inspired by Our Adventures.” A great book, and source of inspiration for the local kitchen.
What’s your favorite vegetarian dish? We’re always looking for new, exotic cuisine to try.